Brené Brown is pretty fabulous. If you haven’t watched her new special on Netflix yet, go do it, you won’t be sorry. I really enjoyed it, and it reminded me of the time I got to see her speak a few years ago. One of her stories at that event that has really stayed with me with was about her teen daughter. Brown offered wonderful advice for parents of heartbroken teens.
A person in the audience asked her to how to empathize with a teen going through a breakup. Truth be told, though, the teen years involve heartbreak from a variety of other sources. Friendships sometimes end, try-outs and auditions don’t always go as hoped, and sometimes tragedy strikes close to home. And this advice applies across the board.
“Our go to as parents is to make everything better. We want to flip on the lights,” Brown said. “But our job is to teach our kids that it is okay to be sad and to sit in the dark with them.”
While some parents may do this literally, it’s safe to say that almost all parents have the chance to do this metaphorically at one point or another.
She stressed that it is important to be clear where you as the parent end and where your child begins.
Even though you may feel all the strong emotions that your child is feeling, you need to stay in your role as a parent. It’s a fine line to walk – one of not rushing in to fix things and not letting your emotions get the best of you. You can show them that it’s possible to be in the dark and know that it won’t be like this forever.
Despite how your heart aches for your baby who is in pain, she said parents should still see this situation as a teachable moment.
It’s an opportunity to teach your child that they can be sad and they can be okay and they can move through it.
The best part may have come when she said that, after she sat in the dark with her daughter, you better believe that yes, she called her friend to rail “about the douchebag who broke her daughter’s heart.”
While Brown meant to inject some humor and levity, she makes an important point. Have someone (or somewhere, like a journal) to vent your emotions to that is not your child. Save it for the grown-ups in your life.
Sitting in the dark with your child isn’t easy. Doing so, however, lets them know that they are not alone and gives them an opportunity to recognize their own resilience. Those are two hugely important gifts parents can give their heartbroken teens.
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